THE Baguio City Council, in its regular session last November 14, passed a resolution urging the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples- Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) to comment on the provisions of the revised Baguio City Charter (Republic Act No. 11689) regarding ancestral lands in the city.
Councilor Jose Molintas, principal author of the resolution, requested the NCIP-CAR to examine RA No.11689 and find out whether its provisions support the processing of ancestral land titles in the city or “erase” the rights of the Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral domain.
It may be remembered that, in August of this year, Molintas authored a resolution inviting the general public, the academe, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter, concerned government agencies, and barangay officials to submit their reactions, comments, and recommendations on the “ambiguous” provisions of RA No. 11689.
During the session, Molintas requested NCIP-CAR lawyers Arthur Herman and Severino Lumiqued to also submit their positions on RA No. 11689, focusing on specific provisions regarding ancestral lands in the city.
Furthermore, Molintas questioned the exclusion of the majority of areas of the city from the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) and Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs).
He was specifically referring to Section 78 of the IPRA which provides that, for properties that are part of the Baguio Townsite Reservation before the passage of the IPRA, no new CALT or CADT can be issued by the NCIP.
For Molintas, this particular provision is “problematic” as it is in conflict with the Mateo Cariño Doctrine which, according to him, has not yet been overturned and still remains to be a valid jurisprudence.
The Mateo Carino Doctrine was a Supreme Court ruling penned by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. It has benefited not only the IPs of the Philippines but also the native communities in the other parts of the world as courts around the globe continue to cite this jurisprudence in protecting the rights of the original inhabitants of a certain territory.
In a privilege speech he delivered in the city council earlier, Molintas claimed that Baguio City had been selling the lands supposedly covered by “native titles” through Townsites Sales Application, Commercial Sales Application, and Miscellaneous Sales Application since the day it was chartered.
He asserted that the current and future administrations must work harder for the remuneration and restoration of these ancestral lands that the original settlers lost.
In a recent interview, he said the next step after gathering all inputs from stakeholders on the revised Baguio City Charter is to push for the amendment of certain provisions, including those that pertain to ancestral land claims within the Baguio Townsite Reservation and in protected areas, particularly the Camp John Hay Reservation which is managed by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA)
According to him, one of the objectives of the amendment of these provisions to be proposed is to ensure that the indigenous peoples’ prior land rights in the city are recognized and protected. – Jordan G. Habbiling